The UPC tracking system is a uniquely American invention, one that was created in response to demands from American businesses, warehouses, and inventory experts. It has resulted in the use of barcode scanning by a majority of North American warehouses and factories, and has proven to be exceptionally efficient and economical in the areas of ordering, receiving, and picking products. And, as any marketer can tell you, it is also a great boon to sales.

Not all countries use UPC tracking with barcodes, and their alternate systems are somewhat curious. For instance, in Southeast Asia and China, many warehouses use chalk to mark each container with ideograms that indicate the nature of the contents, when they were brought in, and when they are scheduled to be shipped out. In India many warehouses keep track of all their inventory with color coded stripes and dots — a sort of Technicolor Morse code!

When cheap lasers and integrated circuits were finally introduced into the field of UPC, barcode scanning really took off. Although most people think that the first barcodes were implemented by grocery stores, the fact of the matter is that they were first used in 1969 to keep track of automobile axle units in a Detroit warehouse. And before that, a crude type of barcode was used to keep track of railroad cars!

So how would you rate your UPC tracking software? Is it doing the job it was meant to do and keeping you and your staff fully informed about the status and whereabouts of every item in your warehouse(s)? Your inventory expert and warehouse management Fishbowl mavens can always help keep you updated on the latest software and technology that makes your job easier and keeps your staff productive. Downtime, for whatever reasons, in a warehouse is always stressful and costly. Brandow Consulting is a good choice to help you keep your technology and software up and running.

They will work with you on your inventory tracking solutions. It’s vital that your software matches the needs of your inventory system — not just for today, but for future expansion (or possible downsizing). Is your current software flexible enough to meet the specific needs of your warehousing situation? Obviously, you’ll need different software for a warehouse full of perishable items, such as fresh food, as compared to a depot full of concrete bird baths!

Is your barcode hardware up to date? Hand-held scanners and portable label printers are just two of the amazing technological advances recently made in inventory management. Is your staff properly trained in the use of all your UPC equipment? Remember, you can have the most expensive and innovative devices on the market, but they won’t do you much good if your staff is not completely trained (and maybe even certified) in their proper use. And embedded microchips can now show you exactly where a container or even an item in a container is located. If you’re still playing guessing games with any of your inventory, get with your Fishbowl consultant NOW to have that fixed immediately.

Your warehouse software should be so user-friendly when it comes to scheduling and keeping track of drop offs, storage, and pick ups, that you shouldn’t have to lift a finger once the parameters have been set. If you find yourself constantly trying to update items in your software you are not using the right software — there IS a better solution out there that won’t cost you an arm and a leg!

So if you are expanding, getting more and/or more varied inventory, a good person to include in your planning sessions is your Fishbowl facilitator. He or she will help you integrate QuickBooks and Xero, among other things, into your changing infrastructure. Always remember, the horizon belongs to those who look forward — not those who look backward!